Success is often a matter of doing the important things long before they become urgent.
Recently, I read about a college professor who was teaching a basic course to three separate classes. In this particular course, the total grade was determined by one final paper to be turned in at the end of the semester.
In one class, he told the students they could turn in their final paper any day up to and including the final day of the semester. In the second class, he gave them milestones every few weeks throughout the semester that the students had to adhere to. And in the third class, he let the students set their own deadlines or milestones.
It is important to note that there were students who succeeded in all three classes; however, the students with deadlines or milestones throughout the semester performed far better than those who had the freedom to complete their work at any time they chose. Among the two classes with deadlines and milestones, the class that set their own individual timelines reported a higher level of satisfaction and attained a higher level of success.
The great entrepreneur, Mary Kay Ash, often said, “People will support that which they help to create.” Having input or control gives us a feeling of autonomy, but if we misuse the autonomy and do not set our own parameters, we are doomed to fail.
Abraham Lincoln described maturity as the ability to act with a sense of urgency long before the crisis is at hand.
There are certain deadlines in life that we cannot control. The IRS requires us to file our tax forms each year on April 15. Many people resent this for many reasons. One of the reasons people resent this deadline is the lack of control. Some unseen person has given us a mandatory deadline. You and I, however, can preempt the IRS by simply setting our own deadline. For example, we can determine to file our tax forms in January or February. This gives us a sense of control and eliminates the potential of a crisis at the last minute.
In business, there are individuals and organizations that maintain a cash reserve to take advantage of unforeseen or unexpected opportunities. This reserve fund is often called a “war chest.” You and I can create our own “time war chest” by eliminating deadlines as we arbitrarily move the deadline forward in our own schedule.
If you have delayed preparing your tax forms until the last minute and then a great opportunity presents itself in your professional or personal life, you may not be able to take advantage of the situation simply because you failed to control your time.
You’ve heard it said that, “Time is money.” This is true, but money can be lost and re-earned while we can never recapture wasted or misallocated time.
As you go through your day today, take control of your time, and you can control your success.
About the Author
Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker.